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  • Writer's pictureSam

"That Fateful Hour"

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

"Come on Faria! It's standing on the launching pad!" Hamir called back to his younger sister, his little legs struggling up the hillock.

"Coming Hamir... why are you running so fast?" Faria panted, pausing midway to take some deep breaths.

"It's going to go!" Hamir replied, wiping his nose on the yellowed rag that hung limply from his skinny body. As he reached the top, he froze, looking out over the field.

A short distance away, the majestic hull of the UTS Lyngal stood ready for departure. The hull was slick and white, curving around the top and the bottom in a squashed oval shape. The back of the ship was rounded, and a bubble sat towards the top; a glass dome that spanned several decks. The front of the ship angled to a sharp ram, as if the entire ship was pointing towards the future, an apt architectural feature for the ship that did signal the future. Blue specks ran around the side of the hull, windows set into the hull's frame. Five nacelles rose from the top of the deck, angled diagonally towards the sky before flattening out parallel to the ship. These were thick rods, white with black tips, set equidistant from each other running from front to back.

Hamir was lost for words. The ship was larger than anything he'd ever seen in his life. He plopped down onto the grass without taking his eyes off the vessel, blinking alternatively so that he didn't miss a second of the sight before him.

"Mowah!" Faria exclaimed as she finally reached the top. "Hamir, look! It's there! It's really there Hamir!" Faria pointed at the ship excitedly.

"I know! I know!" Hamir said. "Sit down Faria!"

"Let's go closer, Hamir!" Faria said excitedly.

"We can't Faria, we don't have a permit to cross the Divide," Hamir said, grabbing his sister's thin arm and pulling her down. "We'll get caught and then they'll separate us,"

"But Hamir, I want to get closer! I want to tell everyone at the home that we saw it up close!"

Hamir was silent, weighing up the decision. If they got caught, the Ministry would separate the pair of them, and he'd never see his sister again. He'd heard stories of people who crossed the Dividing Line and were never seen from again. But, that's if they got caught. Hamir had crossed the Dividing Line many times before, his small stature able to slip by the Ministry guards unnoticed. But then again, he'd never had to drag his little sister along. He turned to look at her; her wild, unkempt and dirty hair fluttered lightly in the breeze. Her trio of eyes, all a bright orange colour, burnt with a childish longing to get closer to the ship. His mind was made up. The ship was close to the Dividing Line anyway; all they had to do was cross it and they'd be right next to it. He got to his feet, wiping his hands on the rags that sufficed as trousers, before digging his fingers into the soil and pulling up a clod of dirt. "Stand still Faria," he said as he pulled up her hair to reveal a mark on her neck, and rubbed the dirt over it.

"Jowah, Hamir, that hurts!" she complained.

"Just don't move!" Hamir snapped back, rubbing the dirt in circles. The bright mark began to fade slightly until it was barely visible. Hamir then grabbed another clod of dirt and began to do the same on a similar mark on his own neck. When he was satisfied that both marks were not readily visible at a distance, he grabbed his sister's hand, and the pair of them ran towards the ship.

The Dividing Line was patrolled by Ministry guards, armed with rifles. These guards, it seemed, were rather bored, sitting on the back of a angular brown truck parked next to the Line, playing a game that looked like marbles. The Dividing Line itself was nothing more than a series of rods, with forcefield like barriers between them. Hamir and Faria were able to approach the road leading parallel to the Line without being seen but to cross it would require traversing the open road. It would have been difficult, had Hamir not known of a trick. Picking up a stone, he aimed it carefully one of the rods and threw it. The stone tripped the alarm, but the guards didn't move.

"Yah, another bird Imrakl?" one of the guards said lazily.

Imrakl stood and looked up and down the road. "Must be. Nobody here. It's why post ourselves here,"

The other guards chuckled. "One day we'll get one of the L'iers to try to cross and then... pew pew pew," another guard said, lifting his rifle and mimicking shooting.

"Well, go turn off the alarm before the Commandant arrives and makes us actually patrol," the first guard said.

"I did it last time, it's Goral's turn,"

"No, it's not!" Goral replied.

As the guards argued, Hamir and his sister burst out from the other side of the road and crossed the already triggered barrier, to the other side. The two of them raced towards the ship, giggling at their rule-breaking.

"I'm going to see the ship, I'm going to see the ship!" Faria laughed in a sing-song voice.

"Behave Faria!" Hamir scolded, but in truth, he was as giddy as his sister.

The dock around the ship was abuzz with activity, as they prepared the ship for launch. Hamir and Faria slipped between crates and luggage as they inched closer to the large hulk. Both of them were amazed by the vastness of the ship. Time seemed to slow as the pair ran through the docks, getting a glimpse of the ship from all angles, threading through the throng of M'iers and H'iers who were all either working on or embarking the ship. Reporters, dock workers, passengers. Hamir and Faria ran past them all to try to get as close to the ship as possible. Finally, the pair slumped on the side of a luggage crate, breathing heavily. "The ship is big!" Hamid said, and Faria nodded. Then Hamir had an amazing idea. "Let's go inside it!"

Faria looked up at him. "Go inside? Hamid, we can't! We'll get caught!"

"But imagine what it would be like to tell everyone at the Home that we went inside! They'd all be amazed!" Hamir reasoned.

"But if we get caught?"

"We won't get caught! Look," he said, and turned behind to look at the luggage crate. "This crate is going to go into that ramp, which is going to go inside the ship. We'll follow it in, have a look around, and then come back out!"

"But Hamir..."

"You're the one who wanted to see the ship, Faria!" Hamir snapped. "Fine, you can stay here... I'm going in!" he said and defiantly clambered onto the top of the luggage crate, trying to move some boxes so that he could hide in.

"Hamir!" Faria cried and followed him in.

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